A UK study has determined humanity would only survive for 100 days in the event of a zombie apocalypse, but we could fight back.
Physics students from the University of Leicester, in central England, hypothesised a zombie would likely find at least one person a day to turn, leaving a mere 300 people uninfected on Earth after only 100 days.
Assuming that a zombie can find one person each day, with a 90 per cent chance of infecting victims with the zombie infection, the students suggest that by day one hundred there be just 273 remaining human survivors, outnumbered a million to one by zombies.
The students presented their findings in a series of short articles for the Journal of Physics Special Topics, a peer-reviewed student journal run by the Department. The student-run journal is designed to give students practical experience of writing, editing, publishing and reviewing scientific papers.
The student team investigated the spread of a hypothetical zombie virus using the SIR model – an epidemiological model that describes the spread of a disease throughout a population. The model splits the population into three categories – those susceptible to the infection, those that are infected and those that have either died or recovered. The SIR model then considers the rates at which infections spread and die off as individuals in the population come into contact with each other.
The initial study did not factor in natural birth and death rates, since the hypothetical epidemic took place over 100 days, resulting in natural births and deaths being negligible compared to the impact of the zombie virus over a short time frame.
Without the ability for humankind to fight back against the undead hordes, the students’ calculations suggest that if global populations were equally distributed in less than a year the human race might be wiped out.
However, in a more hopeful follow-up study, the students investigated the SIR model applied to a zombie epidemic and introduced new parameters, such as the rate in which zombies might be killed and people having children within the nightmare scenario. This made human survival more feasible, suggesting that it would be possible for the world’s human population to survive the zombie epidemic under these conditions – and that eventually the zombie population would be wiped out and the human population would recover.